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250 people and is used for religious services on weekdays, were added when the building was enlarged by László Vágó and Ferenc Faragó in 1931. In addition to the hours of worship, the Holocaust Memorial in the back garden, which was designed by Imre Varga in 1989, stands directly above the mass graves dug during the 1944 – 1945 Hungarian Fascist period. Each leaf of the tree carries the name of a martyr. Alexandra Book Mega Store 23E V. Károly körút 3/c, www.alexandra.hu, open daily 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ••• The chain that owns this shop, which is the biggest bookshop in the country, did not exist ten years ago. The business grew gradually out of a micro-business in the provincial city of Pécs where business whiz kid Dezső Matyi was a street vendor with a

When Budapest was formed in 1873 it had about 45,000 Jewish inhabitants, and by 1930 the figure had risen to 204,371. The illusion of the possibility of assimilation came between those years. Until 1914, Jewish business, social, scholarly and artistic achievements largely contributed to Hungary’s progress. About 350 families were promoted to the nobility by Emperor Franz Joseph (known as King for Hungarians). All that changed during and after World War One when the Jewish population was made a scapegoat for everything: the lost war, the peace treaty, the depression, etc. First in 1920, with the Numerus Clausus legislation (which barred Jews from universities, but was abolished in 1928) and then from the late 1930s, Jewish community life was once again increasingly restricted. The three increasingly severe Jewish Laws in 1938, 1940 and 1941 gradually stripped the Jewish population of property, the right for certain social activities, and finally, even sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews. Needless to say, the definition of Jewishness was based on the Nazi Nuremberg laws, on a hereditary racial principle. According to those laws, in the early 1940s about 184,000 Jews lived in Budapest. Another 62,000 were considered Jews according to antiJewish laws, so the total Jewish population was 246,000. At the beginning of the war Hungary sided with Germany and, consequently, was not occupied until March 1944.

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great imagination. Everybody was looking at the two bookstore chains that were privatized formerly state-owned companies. Alexandra (named for Matyi’s daughter) is bigger now than the others. But it is more than just a business success. It grew (at least recently) through quality buyouts. It has gradually acquired some prestigious publishers and it publishes a glossy book magazine that is fast becoming much more than a PR vehicle. It has literary and other cultural lectures by the dozen every month. Alexandra is clearly more than just a business – it seems to invest in long-term expectations for the better. All in all, it is a story for a luckier country – or so it seems. If you enter this shop, you’ll see some oversize pictures of celebrities who all read: authors and media people, advertising tycoons and others. In the basement there is an old-style bookbinder. It is a must to visit them.

More than 15,000 Jews from Budapest were killed in labour camps and deportations before the German occupation. After the occupation, Adolf Eichmann started a Budapest Jewish council and denied freedom of movement within the city to Jews and forced them to wear a yellow badge. A heavily guarded neighbourhood surrounded by a wooden fence and gates was formed in June 1944. It was a Jewish ghetto, the first in Hungary’s thousand year history. A month later, 200,000 Jews were moved to 2,000 homes. Plans were made to deport them in July and August. Governor Horthy stopped the further deportations from Budapest on July 7, 1944, preventing most of Budapest’s Jews from being deported. Meanwhile, the neutral states planned rescue actions for Budapest’s Jews. Raoul Wallenberg and the other diplomatic heroes of Budapest of 1944 – Giorgio Perlasca, Carl Lutz and others – issued tens of thousands of identity documents to Jews to protect them from Nazi deportation. They are credited with ultimately saving as many as 100,000 people. By the end of December 1944, 70,000 Jews lived in the central ghetto in Budapest and tens of thousands in the international ghetto or protected houses. The Arrow Cross, the Hungarian fascist party (in power from October 15, the day Regent Horthy resigned) searched for Jews across the city and murdered them. The international ghetto was liberated by the Soviets on January 16, 1945, and the central ghetto two days later. About 94,000 Jews remained in the two ghettos at the time of liberation.

Walk THREE

Walk THREE

Budapest Jews in the 20th century

Gellérthegy and The Old City

2011.04.20. 15:49:40

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András Török's Budapest: A Critical Guide  

The Celebrated Insider's Guide, upgraded many times, probably the deepest and funnieast and truest portrait of any major European city. With...

András Török's Budapest: A Critical Guide  

The Celebrated Insider's Guide, upgraded many times, probably the deepest and funnieast and truest portrait of any major European city. With...

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